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Learning - Our Culture and Ethos

Learning - Our Culture and Ethos

As part of our school culture, we want our children to have high ambitions about their education and encourage further and higher education opportunities. . Whilst not all our children will choose to go to university, our aim is to as many children as possible will have this option open to them at 18.  For this to happen, the children need to have developed a good grasp of reading, writing and mathematics, as well as knowledge about a range of other subjects whist they are with us.

But . . . . . . the most important thing is that the parents of our young people encourage them to 'dream big' and really believe that they can and will go to university. Remember that research shows that university graduates will, on average, earn £250,000 more in a lifetime than non-graduates as well as living seven years longer.  If you think its all about being born with talent or intelligence, watch this short video which explains that success if largely about getting in lots of practice and the effort you put in.

In the school we use the research of Carol Dweck to ensure that our children do as well as they can.  Prof Dweck is a world-renowned psychologist who has undertaken work to show that children can become 'smarter' if we praise their effort rather than the outcome of their work.  For example, if a child gets full marks in a maths test we would say "well done, you obviously put a lot of effort into learning your maths" rather than "wow, you are amazing at maths".  We also talk regularly to our children about the importance of giving 100% effort.  We also teach children about the process of learning and that it is perfectly OK to sometimes feel confused, this is all part of the learning process. 

 We also subscribe to the work of Matthew Syed who believes that talent is not just due to being born with a particular skill but can be developed.  Watch the  video below to find out more

The school also has a clear educational philosophy - we want to use what research shows is effective in educating children and the fortunate bi-product of this is that it often means less work for our teachers.  We feel that this is a 'win-win' situation because the children learn more quickly and the stress levels of our staff are reduced, which means that, in turn , they are more effective in the classroom and happier.   More specifically, these are the things that we are actively using within our school to ensure that we are helping our children to learn effectively:

1)  We are moving towards a more knowledge-based curriculum.   Research shows that children need a clear grasp of knowledge before they are able to master skills.  We are therefore moving away from a skills-based curriculum and once we are an academy, we will have the freedom that brings to develop our curriculum further.   Parents and pupils will notice that part of our move towards a knowledge-based curriculum is the use of our knowledge organisers.  These are one-page summaries for each subject that our pupils study that outlines all of the information that they need to know (have memorised) for that unit of work.  Watch the short video below to find out more about why we teach a knowledge-based curriuclum.

2) We use the principles of cognitive load theory to help our pupils to learn.  This means that we understand that children can only remember a small amount of new material at one time and that we need to help them to move new knowledge and skills from their working memory into their long term memory for real 'learning' to take place.   Cognitive load theory also demonstrates that direct instruction is the most efficient method of helping children to learn (that is, the teacher explaining to the children how to do something rather than the children being left to try and work this out for themselves through exploration).  Finally cognitive load theory states that we need to encourage children to recall facts periodically to ensure that they do not forget them and that effective learning has not taken place until children are able to reliably recall facts some time after the original lesson teaching them the facts has happened.  For that reason, we do not think that assessing the children immediately after each lesson is an accurate assessment of their learning.  Instead we use regular 'quizzing' to encourage accurate recall and assess learning.   Quizzes are completed on a weekly basis and children who are not able to recall accurately enough are given additional support.   For  more information about cognitive load theory, watch the video below.

3)  We know that good feedback is one of the most important ways of helping children to learn.  At Osmaston Primary School we encourage good quality feedback by asking teachers to review work in children's books regularly  However, instead of asking them to write lot of comments in the books, we ask teachers to make notes about the common mistakes and excellent points that they have seen in the books.  In this way they spend less time marking books and more time preparing a lesson that will incorporate all of the feedback that the children require.

4)  We teach our staff (and our pupils) to use the techniques outlined in Doug Lemov's book "Teach Like a Champion".  These are based on best-practice and explicitly describe techniques that teachers (and pupils) can use to enhance learning in the classroom (and beyond).  In particular we use some specific questioning techniques which assists our pupils in memory recall (see cognitive load theory above).

For more information and some links to the research on all of the above please visit our staff cpd webpage.